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Five Positive Steps To Great Therapy

For the podcast that accompanies this blog, you can check it out here…..

There are moments in life when thoughts pop into your mind, and you have no way of realising that the solution to the questions posed will change the direction you are travelling in life.

That moment, for me, happened in February 2020 just before the apocalypse, one rainy, grey Sunday when I was nursing a mild hangover in the city of Bath. I was half way through my first year studying for my MSc in Rehabilitation at UWE and discovering that I really enjoyed thinking through the issues surrounding the research of Advanced Clinical Massage Therapy (ACMT), but I was becoming aware of a huge disconnect. There was a missing link between the academic ivory towers and the daily practice that every ACMT therapist experiences with their clients, and the experience clients have with their pain patterns.

There I was, studying for a masters in rehabilitation, and the subject of therapeutic touch wasn’t even mentioned in lectures, let alone on the syllabus. If we weren’t talking about it at uni, then how on earth was the general population going to know about therapeutics and the health benefits of physical rehabilitation?

“The Bath Question”, as it has become known at Cornerstone Therapies, was the reason why we set up Therapy Unwound. We wanted to create a platform that allowed us to bridge the gaps, span the boarders, and mobilize the knowledge that has been around for decades to the people who need to hear about it the most; you!

In the late spring of 2020 I started taking an optional module at UWE based around Knowledge Mobilization with my now supervising Professor, Nicki Walsh. Knowledge Mobilization, or KM, is the research branch that looks at, in our case health services, and how the knowledge between care teams can be mobilized to aid care pathways. It’s a fascinating subject, and I was particularly taken by Gabay and LeMay’s work on something called ‘Mindlines’. The idea of boundary spanning also came into my life; a form on KM that involves outreach. This whole new world became the foundation for my dissertation, and within it I learned a new vocabulary around communication, as I was beginning to see that Evidence Based Practice (EBP) was a discipline that needed to be brought out from the shadows and encouraged within the ACMT community and beyond.

The Sicily Statement was drawn up in 2005, and stated that to claim that therapeutic work carried out is based on evidence, five steps had to be adhered to:

1. Translation of uncertainty to an answerable question

2. Systematic retrieval of best evidence available

3. Critical appraisal of evidence for validity, clinical relevance, and applicability

4. Application of results in practice

5. Evaluation of performance

But how do we expect to get that information to the people who need it? Time is precious and with the best will in the world, therapists, clinicians, nurses, surgeons, physios… they are all so busy that seeking out new research is often too time consuming when they are paid to treat people.

The interesting part of Gabay and LeMay’s work with Mindlines was the concept of ‘community think’. For example, a respected member of a team would have an interest in new research, and so people go to that person and ask for advice, or even just chat about it in the coffee room. This passed on information would become a generalized knowledge, and so a Mindline within a community of workers would appear.

As I have spent the past two years with my head in research journals, I have learned that they are dry, dull and quite difficult to find if you don’t have access to a university library. I have also seen that imagination doesn’t always allow information to flow freely; for example, it wouldn’t be too hard for a hospital to set up a podcast that was uploaded every week to keep the staff informed of fresh research, news and updates. Staff could listen to it on the way to work and feel part of a community. The same goes for design; infographics, good looking intranets, or even apps would be an easy way of bringing fresh news to people who are time starved. To build community staff could send in research they have come across to be part of the broadcast, and everyone can develop together. It takes skill sets that are different from the medical and managerial, the clinical and the therapeutic, but those skill sets are as valuable because they are the ones that allow EBP to become a reality within a working culture.

Simon Sinek wrote a great book called; “Start with Why”. You don’t actually have to read the book, as his title is everything, as is his TEDTalk, (along with an old school flip chart). But without the WHY, you are not going to succeed. What question are you answering, is it an answer that is needed, and who needs the answer. Our WHY at Therapy Unwound is the answer to “The Bath Question”; people need to hear knowledge mobilized about therapeutic healthcare in a way that is informative, accessible and allows them to go on to do their own independent research.

Knowledge is armour, and it better be made out of good quality material, otherwise, we get injured. Therapy Unwound, gives you all the information you need to go and find the sources used, tell you where to track them down and allow you to start doing your own thinking.

With blessings, Jenny.

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